Cervical Cancer

Glossary: Cervical Cancer

Here are definitions of medical terms related to cervical cancer.

Benign: Not cancerous.

Carcinoma in situ (CIS): A non-cancerous tumor that remains ‘in the site’ of origin and shows signs of becoming cancerous.

Cervical intraepithelial neoplasia: Growth of abnormal cells on the surface of the cervix.

Cervix: The narrow, lower end of the uterus (womb).

Dysplasia: Potentially precancerous abnormality of cervical cells.

Epithelium: The covering of the internal and the external organs of the body, as well as the lining of vessels, glands, and organs. It consists of cells bound together by connective material, and it varies in the number of layers and the kinds of cells it contains.

Genital warts: Lesions produced by the human papillomavirus (HPV) and transmitted through sexual contact. The lesions may be raised and bumpy, or flat and almost impossible to see.

Human papillomavirus (HPV): Virus that is transmitted from one person to another during sexual contact, and that is considered to be the leading cause of cervical cancer. It has nothing to do with HIV (the virus that causes AIDS).

Hysterectomy: Surgical removal of the uterus.

Malignant: Cancerous.

Pap test: The Papanicolau test; a test that detects abnormalities in the cells of the female genital tract. The test is performed by a health care provider, who uses a small brush or swab to brush along the cervix in order to obtain a sample of cells, which are then studied under a microscope.

Precancerous: Having the potential to become malignant (cancerous).

Rectum: Section of the colon where solid waste is stored before passing out of the body.

Squamous intraepithelial lesion: Abnormal growth of flat, scaly cells on the surface of the cervix.

Systemic: Affecting the whole body.

Tumor: An abnormal mass of tissue that results from excessive cell division. A tumor may be benign (not cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).

Uterus: The female reproductive organ in which a fetus grows during pregnancy. Also called the womb.

Vagina: The passage that connects the female reproductive organs to the outside.

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